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Understanding the role of microbiome interactions in the freezing stress tolerance of plants


Current methods used by growers to prevent or reduce freezing damage include mainly physical approaches, which have
several limitations in terms of cost, efficacy and environmental impact. The use of natural plant beneficial bacteria is a
promising approach against freezing damage. With the aim of developing new microbial-based products for freezing
protection of apple, the goal of this project is to taxonomically and functionally characterise the bacterial communities
associated with the anthosphere of a wild cold-adapted rosaceous plant (Dryas octopetala) and to assess their freezing
protection abilities on apple. To achieve these goals, we will use the combination of high-throughput sequencing and rapid throughput screening of bacterial isolates with interdisciplinary approaches of molecular biology, bioinformatics, microbiology and plant physiology. In particular, bacterial taxa associated with D. octopetala flowers under freezing stress tolerance will be identified and targeted isolation methods will be used to recover psychrophilic bacteria. Screening of bacterial isolates will be carried out to examine their ice-active traits (ice recrystallization inhibition and ice shaping) and environmental stress tolerance (drought, starving and UV). Efficacy tests of the isolates for their freezing protection abilities on apple will be performed, followed by feasibility checking of industrial production of the best candidates. The scientific outcomes of this project will contribute in the development of a microbial product for freezing protection of fruit crops that will be further developed for the EU market, which agrees with the promotion of sustainable biological methods. FreezingBioprotector will be fundamental to my professional career development by broadening my expertise in microbial ecology and crop protection, as well as transferable skills on teamwork, leadership, analytical thinking and project management that will be essential for my future research career.

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Via Calepina 14
38122 Trento
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 183 473,28